Forgive Bill Nelson for taking his time. After all, the issue of gay marriage had nothing to do with his preferred issues of space and snakes.
Ever a moderate, Nelson had stuck to a low-key position supporting civil unions. Apparently the 70-year-old senator finally realized he was just one of seven Democratic senators left to not support same-sex marriage, so last night he penned of a brief editorial in The Tampa Bay Times.
The entire piece is just 128 words, and yet still somehow comes off as rambling. It takes him 80 words to get to the word "gay," and 100 to use "marriage." In fact, its not entirely clearly what he's exactly getting at until the last sentence:
So I will add my name to the petition of senators asking the Supreme Court to declare the law that prohibits gay marriage unconstitutional.
What precedes it is some basic wrangling in simple political and religious terms, in which he finally comes to the conclusion: "Simply put, if the Lord made homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, why should I discriminate against their civil marriage? I shouldn't, and I won't."
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In other words, he finally came to the same conclusion as Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. It just took him two and a half years.
Though, no one really expects Nelson to act fast on hot button, decisive, and controversial issues. It's simply not his style.
Considering however that 48 percent of Florida Democratic voters and 43 percent of Independents support same-sex marriage, this isn't much of a controversial issues anymore. And if Nelson decided to run again in six more years, it certainly won't be by then (and in fact not supporting gay marriage could have hurt him if he was to face a primary challenge). In essence, Nelson basically waited until for the first politically safe moment to take a stand. At least he finally did.